Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 review

ZDNet Editors' Choice

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 review

Summary: The Transformer Pad Infinity retains the superb physical design of its predecessors, adding a new high-resolution screen without impacting battery life. We'd like to see mobile broadband support, a lighter weight for the tablet/keyboard combo and a lower price, but the Infinity is still a class-leading product.

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  • Editors' rating:
    9
  • User rating:
    6.7
  • RRP:
    £500.00

Pros

  • Excellent two-piece design
  • High-resolution IPS display
  • Good keyboard dock
  • Second battery in keyboard dock
  • USB, SD and microSD support
  • Software bundle includes Polaris Office

Cons

  • Charging is via a proprietary 40-pin port
  • Top-heavy in 'notebook' mode
  • Lacks integrated mobile broadband
  • Relatively heavy
  • Expensive

The original Asus Eee Pad Transformer, which we reviewed last May, set the standard for tablet/keyboard combo devices. The follow-up Transformer Prime added a quad-core CPU and Android 4.0, earning itself an Editors' Choice award. Now we have the Transformer Pad Infinity TF700, which replicates the two-piece design of its predecessors and further refines the specifications. Due to become available in the UK at the end of August for around £600 (inc. VAT; £500 ex. VAT), does the year-old Transformer design still have what it takes?

Design
The short answer to the design question has to be 'yes'. In clamshell mode the Transformer Pad Infinity looks for all the world like a small, thin notebook — yet the way it splits in two to free up the tablet remains as eye-catching as when we first saw it.

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity
The Android 4.0-based Transformer Pad Infinity looks almost identical to its Transformer Prime predecessor, but adds a new high-resolution screen and a faster CPU.

This is testament to both the originality and robustness of the earlier products, and to the fact that no other hardware manufacturer has so far matched Asus for the sheer utility of the tablet/keyboard combination.

The metal chassis of the keyboard section and metal backplate to the tablet are solid but weighty. Asus doesn't quote the combined weight, only specifying the tablet's weight as 598g. It tipped our scales at 600g, with the keyboard dock adding 528g. That's a total weight of around 1.13kg.

Key criticisms of earlier models apply to the Transformer Pad Infinity — notably the fact that charging is via a proprietary 40-pin connector (which also links the tablet and keyboard sections together). Elsewhere, the tendency we noticed in earlier models for screen taps to cause the device tip backwards when in notebook mode is also evident here.

The keyboard design remains good. The isolated keys feel comfortable under the fingers and it's perfectly possible to touch-type at a decent speed. The keyboard offers a range of Android-specific features including Home and Menu keys. The top row, as in earlier models, includes useful controls for volume, wireless, screen brightness and disabling the touchpad.

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity
The Infinity's keyboard is comfortable to type on, and includes a key to disable the large touchpad to prevent accidental pointer movement or mouse clicks.

One of the Transformer Pad Infinity TF700's key features is a major upgrade to the screen. The 10.1in. Super IPS+ panel has a full HD resolution of 1,920 by 1,200 pixels and the result is an impressively crisp, clear viewing experience.

The obvious screen comparison is with the latest iPad, whose 2,048 by 1,536 pixels are crammed into a 9.7in. screen, delivering a slightly higher pixel density. In everyday use there's little to separate the two devices, although the iPad just edges past the Transformer Pad Infinity in terms of text clarity. Once you've experienced this level of screen clarity there really is no going back.

Features
Another key differentiator between the Transformer Pad Infinity and its Transformer Prime predecessor is the choice of CPU. The Prime's 1.4GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor has been upgraded to a faster 1.6GHz version in the Infinity, supported as before by 1GB of RAM. A low-power fifth core in the Tegra 3 processor is designed to handle undemanding tasks and conserve battery power.

With 64GB of internal storage there's plenty of capacity. There's also a 32GB option, but we have no UK pricing or availability information on that at the time of writing. You can augment the internal storage in various ways: the tablet section has a microSD card slot, while the keyboard dock has an SD card slot and a USB 2.0 port. The latter can accommodate an external device such as a mouse or an alternative keyboard, as well as allowing you to attach additional storage. You also get 8GB of Asus Web storage for life, which could prove handy.

The roster of ports and connectors is completed by a Micro-HDMI port and a 3.5mm microphone/headset combo jack on the tablet, which has two cameras: a 2-megapixel front-facing unit and an 8-megapixel flash-equipped camera at the back.

The Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 runs Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich), and Asus populates it with a strong range of applications. There are Wi-Fi streaming DLNA facilities via MyNet, while MyDesktop provides remote access to a PC or Mac desktop. Both Zinio and the Kindle app are among the preinstalled extras, along with Asus's own music store, Asus @vibe.

Probably most useful app for professionals is the superb Polaris Office, which can be used to create Word-, Excel- and PowerPoint-compatible documents. Asus also includes SuperNote, which allows you to create hand-written notes and drawings, and which Asus has included on previous Transformer devices.

Performance & battery life
The Transformer Pad Infinity's combination of the quad-core 1.6GHz Tegra 3 processor and 1GB of RAM, not surprisingly, gave us no problems during testing. We were happy with the tablet's responsiveness to whatever we threw at it — and that ranged from low-level tasks like document creation to more demanding tasks like playing games. Our only criticism is the boot time, which is a little slow.

As with the Transformer Prime there are two batteries — one in the tablet and a second in the keyboard dock. With the dock attached, battery life is rated as 14 hours, while the tablet section alone should deliver 9.5 hours, according to Asus.

When it's not being charged, the battery in the keyboard dock transfers power to the tablet, so that the tablet contains as much charge as possible and can be lifted away and used standalone. The tablet section also charges before the dock, while the dock drains before the tablet. It's quite a smart system. Three CPU power management modes — Balanced, Performance and Power Saving — help conserve battery power when needed.

We found it easy to get a day's usage from a fully charged complete unit, and even managed a whole weekend away from mains power. Given that the proprietary charger is a nuisance to carry, that's all to the good.

Conclusion
The Transformer Pad Infinity retains the superb physical design of its predecessors, which is over a year old, but still unrivalled by any competitor. We're as impressed with it today as we were when we first saw it in the Eee Pad Transformer. The Infinity's new high-resolution Super IPS+ screen is a dream to use, and battery life remains impressive.

What Asus needs to do now is build in mobile broadband support and reduce the weight of the tablet/keyboard combo — and bring the price down.

Specifications

General
Manufacturer's specification http://eee.asus.com/en/eeepad/transformer-infinity/specification/
Dimensions (W x H x D) 263x8.5x180.8 mm
Weight 598 g
OS & software
Operating system Android 4.0
Software included MyNet, MyDesktop, Zino, Kindle app, Asus @vibe, Polaris Office, SuperNote
Processor & memory
Clock speed 1.6 GHz
Processor model Nvidia Tegra 3
RAM 1024 MB
Storage
Internal 64000 MB
Display
Display technology TFT touch-screen (active matrix)
Display size 10.1 in
Native resolution 1920x1200 pixels
Connections
Ports USB 2.0, Micro-HDMI, microphone/headphone combo
Slots MicroSD, SD/MMC
Wireless
Wi-Fi 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n
Short range Bluetooth 3.0+HS
GPS technology
Antenna built in
GPS receiver yes
Input devices
Keyboard Yes
Touchscreen Yes
Camera
2nd camera front
Flash Yes
Main camera rear
2nd camera resolution 2 megapixels
Main camera resolution 8 megapixels
Power
Removable battery No
Claimed battery life 14 h
Number of batteries 2
Miscellaneous
Accessories AC adapter
Expand

Prices

There are currently no prices available for this product.

Topics: Tablets, Android, Mobility, Reviews

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24 comments
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  • Crap review, should be a preview

    1.0

    Did You ever hold this thing in Your own hands or did You only typewrite the specification You found on other websites? No one word about haptics, quality, connectivity, heat, input lag, bleeding etc.
    Another stupid sucking review to clatter up the internet.
    bartbox.news@...
    • I'm wondering

      Why are you giving the device a 1 because of a bad review?
      Michael Alan Goff
    • Gold Standard, but with some weak spots

      8.0

      People who want a Transformer pretty well know they want a transformer. And if the keyboard dock -- that not only doesn't drain your device's battery like a wireless board, but charges it and comes with a hinge that provides far more viewing angle flexibility -- is important to you, then there isn't much competition out there.

      The Infinity stands apart from even other transformers with its strikingly high pixel density and super ips+ brightness. Pixel density is mostly going to benefit readers by providing clear and sharp text. Blurry text can add to eye strain over long reading sessions. It's going to be less noticeable for gaming and video watching. Super IPS+ is somewhat useful for outdoor viewing -- this is hurt a little by how reflective the glass on the infinity is and that gets magnified in brighter environments, so daylight viewing isn't exactly ideal, but it's better than any LCD screen I've seen. If you're not a reader, consider the tf300 for a discount and a longer battery life.

      The Infinity's specs are top of the line, but two are slightly problematic if you're concerned about future proofing. The first is the 1GB of RAM. Asus speed the ram up, but didn't increase the capacity. Now I doubt you'll feel that pinch if want to buy a new tablet every year or two, but I suspect this will be the first bottleneck to emerge for longer term buyers. If applications and games ever do fully support the Infinity's big resolution, they'll probably be pretty RAM hungry too.

      The second spec of some small concern is that this only has Bluetooth 3. Again, not a big deal today, because virtually no Bluetooth 4 accessories exist yet. But BT4 is not just an evolutionary boost to the protocol, it's a little revolutionary, allowing super low powered peripherals to get, not weeks or months off their own battery, but years, and allowing tiny accessories to be practical. Most of what is in the pipeline are exercise or health related, but you never know what awesome stuff might be out there once the possibilities sink in. If you plan to get a phone with BT4, you can shrug this weakness off and use your accessories with that.

      The only build issue for me is the speaker placement. I'll never understand why tablet makers, and virtually none do this, don't put the speakers on the front. These tabs are designed for consumption of movies and music, among other things, and why would you want to direct the sound away from them? No matter how good the speaker, and the Infinity's is pretty good, it'll always be better if it's facing you. Hard to dock Asus for this since everyone does it though.

      All in all, the Infinity is lighter than I imagined, as bright and sharp as I'd hoped, is fast and versatile, and is doubtless the best Android tablet on the market today. Asus has loaded it with useful goodies like a word processor, cloud storage, desktop streamer, a good set of performance profiles and plenty of helpful widgets. It's an eye-catching device, especially docked, looking like an ultrabook -- easily the most conspicuous tech I've ever owned.

      *Note, for best deal of the Asus TF700, I suggest you have to check at: tabletsbestprice.blogspot.com/p/asus-tf700.html

      I'm never completely satisfied, but I am pretty happy with this buy.
      MRuppert09
  • Nice Review...

    8.0

    This is a very nice review. Well done. I personally am looking forward to the 13" Windows 8 Transformer Book version of this tablet. I think it could be a real replacement all in one device that can do everything this tablet can do plus run my Windows Apps I need for work. I hope Asus will also make a desktop dock with both USB and mini HDMI ports so I can just dock it and have access to my favorite KB and mouse. I could even see setting up docks in conference rooms and have anyone who needs to do a presentation being able to dock and have instant access to the Monitor without having to worry about network settings or trying to mirror or stream a video via DLNA. Its one of the issues we have with Android and iOS that they have to mirror rather than have an extended desktop second monitor. We'll see how it works out. Right now even with my iPad and Android tablets, I have to pull out my Windows Laptop to get things done because multitasking is just not as good with them. This might solve that problem for us.

    For those that don't know, the Transformer Book supposedly will have the following (hardware options were not finalized) A full HD display 1080P in 11,13, and 14 inches, Core i7 CPU, up to 4GB RAM, 64 and 128 GB SSD options, MicroSD, NFC, Bluetooth, 5MP RFC and HD FFC, and a USB Port (not sure if it will be USB3 yet). It will also have a Keyboard dock with a battery, USB port (again not sure if USB3), possible Optical drive option, Second HD, and descrete graphics chip (hopefully a NVidia m640 or better).
    Drewidian
    • I used to think that I needed Windows 8 tablet

      8.0

      and I was waiting but then I picked up a Nexus 7 and it has reinvigorated my appreciation for Android tablets (I have had several ranging from total crap to mostly crap). I am not saying that the N7 is a replacement for my laptop but this TF device running Jelly Bean could be for 95% of what I do at home (work is another story but who cares about that lol).

      I guess we will see how Windows 8 looks and feels on tablets. Jelly Bean is much closer to a true desktop OS experience than any other version of Android or iOS. That said I am pulling for MS to put out something great this fall. It seems like they still have some kinks to work out.
      redhaven
  • Consumers should be stearing clear of buying any android tablets now

    3.0

    that W8 tablets are just around the corner. Otherwise youll just end up with a bad case of buyers remorse. Hopefully they'll make a W8 version of this that fixes the charging adapter problem and lowers the weight of the tablet portion.
    Johnny Vegas
    • Not everybody needs a windows tablet

      9.0

      Why would they be having buyers remorse if this tablet does everything they need it to?
      Michael Alan Goff
      • agreed

        8.0

        I don't play any windows games, and all I need on my computer for work is office and the web. android is sufficient for my purposes, so I would rather have the extra battery life and lower weight that android, being on ARM, offers compared to windows.

        I have philosophical differences with MS over windows RT, and refuse to buy it (I won't buy any system that's locked down like that. it's a recent trend in technology that appalls me and I won't support it.)
        theoilman
    • Troll elsewhere

      10.0

      Seriously,

      What's said in Vegas, should stay in Vegas.
      Bozzer
    • Windows 8 is not ready

      4.0

      The review was very surface-level, yes.

      I have been using a 12" Samsung running Windows 8 preview and Office 2013. My overall impression is poor at this point. The hardware cost is out of reach($1,200). There is no way I would ever buy a tablet when I can buy an ultra book at this price...it just makes no sense. The tablet is way too big so you lose portability anyway...and the screen is very poor compared to almost any Android tablet I've seen for 1/3 or 1/4 the price.

      Windows itself is very inconsistent. The apps in the store are there and then gone...can't figure out what's available and what isn't (like Kobo). The gestures are hard to learn and seem very inconsistent between Metro and the Desktop interfaces. For example, in Metro the keyboard pops up when you touch a text field but it doesn't in the Desktop...you have to tap a keyboard icon first. The tablet runs hot and has a fan inside...it's thick and heavy.

      Overall, it seems very immature. Going back to an Android tablet was like a breath of fresh air!

      I won't be buying any Windows tablets until they've matured a lot more.
      dhuhtala@...
  • An awesome tablet

    10.0

    I've bought my Transformer when it was launched a few weeks ago. It works great, and is the best tablet on market today.

    It has some problems tho - because of its high screen brightness you can use it outside and it doesn't get very hot. I had an iPad that couldn't be used outside - so I ended up doing something different instead of using the tablet. So an iPad keeps you more in shape, because you can't use it sometimes.
    Žiga Iglič
  • An awesome tablet

    10.0

    I've bought my Transformer when it was launched a few weeks ago. It works great, and is the best tablet on market today.

    It has some problems tho - because of its high screen brightness you can use it outside and it doesn't get very hot. I had an iPad that couldn't be used outside - so I ended up doing something different instead of using the tablet. So an iPad keeps you more in shape, because you can't use it sometimes.
    Žiga Iglič
  • Fujitsu Stylistic Q702

    I need.
    1. 11.6 or greater screen (to read journal articles in PDF form)
    2. Core i processor.
    3. 4GB RAM
    4. dual digitizer stylus. Use to use an active digitizer with my Motion and really miss it.

    So I am going for the Fujitsu Stylistic Q702.
    Malleable69
    • Question

      What's the battery life like?
      Michael Alan Goff
      • battery life

        says up to 11hrs.
        Malleable69
    • good for u

      1.0

      Why are u posting on a tablet review if u dont want or own a tablet? Troll
      brailleg
  • Not a Laptop Replace, more like an iPad that comes with a Keyboard

    5.0

    If it can't run full Windows nor full OS X, it currently can't be a competitive device to today's productive Laptop users. It's simply an iPad (a great consumption gadget), running Android, that comes with a keyboard.
    MrElectrifyer
    • notebook replacement

      9.0

      I've been using an old TF101 for 80% of my needs for the last 12 months. The Windows 8 version of this new machine will be out soon and will move the figure up to 95%. If there is an interface into my office QAD ERP system then I don't see why that shouldn't be 100%.
      Nothing I do in the office needs 3D gaming processing power. This is one of the first movers in a wave of machines that will move tablets from internet consumption devices to fully fledged computers.
      Managers will now have a computer with them at all times and not have to rely on trying to view files on their phones tiny screen and swype emails whilst in the taxi.
      The lack of mobile internet is easy. I just tether my cheap Android phone to my Asus Transformer. Why would I want to pay for 2 data plans?
      Beijing CFO
      • Window 8 is a mixed bag

        9.0

        The problem with Windows 8 is going to be the instant fragmentation between ARM tablets (Windows RT, running only brand new applications) and x86 (on a tablet but capable of running all the legacy stuff). Sure, you can do desktop things on an x86 Surface... as long as you roll out the keyboard and mouse. Otherwise, you're at the mercy of the touch apps. Sure, there's Office, but it'll be awhile.

        With the ARM version, you're exactly in the same boat as the iPad or any Android tablet... some years back. There's built-in Office on every Windows RT tablet, but you're going to have to wait for apps. And those first for WinRT/Phone, just like other tablet environments, are the consumption-only apps.

        There's one extra problem with Windows RT tablets... Windows 8 success. If Windows 8 is a hit, and particularly, if the Don't-Call-Me-Metro interface gets lots of desktop ports, before you know it, there will be apps a'plenty for Windows RT, too. None of which will run all that well on Windows RT, as they'll be tuned for the 10,000x more PCs running x86. Keep in mind the problems with Netbooks and real Windows. Exactly the same problem here. Android and iOS tablets are each the fastest devices in their class, so they run very well. Windows RT tablets will run Win7Phone apps really fast, but again, only consumption. Now, if this catches on really big on the tablet and stalls on the desktop, this may never happen. But something to consider. Yeah, it's still a high-class problem, versus the derth of apps that's going to be the case next month.
        Hazydave
    • Depends on how you use your laptop

      9.0

      If you need Windows applications, obviously, you need a Windows laptop. However, it's actually shipped with small-"o" Office type apps.. and these days, most of the docs I need for work are on Google Docs -- meaning, anything I'm editing offline can pretty much be in the format of my choice. And online, Android works great.

      You can, of course, use an Android device for real Linux programming, too. No, it's not going to be as fast as my i7 desktop, and it's only got one 1920x1200 screen.. same deal with most laptops. I'm not doing CAD or video work on the laptop with any love of life, so not really a concern for the tablet. And there is a real advantage to all-day life, for the things it does do well.

      The single real problem for many kind of productive work on a tablet is the touchscreen. I can't touch-type on a tablet, the input's not reliable enough, there's no tactical feeback, and the damn virtual keyboard eats much to all of the visual areas on-screen. My current (somewhat broken and needing replacement) Android tablet became a different beast entirely with the addition of an option BT keyboard and mouse. Fully functional as a writing tool.

      Sure, there may be holes in some places, productivity-app wise. But that's not a limit of the device, just available software. As with the iPad, Android apps aren't entirely for consumption anymore. The performance here beats any desktop from ten years back -- and folks certainly got work done on those.
      Hazydave